- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 22, 2004

A $120,000 reward is being offered by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the FBI and the Transportation Department for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for mailing letters last year containing the deadly poison ricin and a ricin derivative.

A letter containing a small vial of ricin was found Oct. 15, 2003, at a mail processing facility in Greenville, S.C., signed by someone who identified himself as “Fallen Angel.” The letter was addressed to the Transportation Department and complained about new trucking regulations that mandated additional rest periods for long-haul truckers.

Although ricin can be fatal if ingested, inhaled, or injected and there is no known antidote, no was sickened in the incident.

A letter addressed to the White House, intercepted Nov. 6, 2003, contained a small vial of ricin. Bearing a Chattanooga, Tenn., postmark, the letter, like the one from Greenville, was signed by “Fallen Angel.”

The White House letter, which threatened to turn the nation’s capital “into a ghost town” if the new trucking regulations were not repealed, was discovered by the U.S. Secret Service at an off-site mail processing facility in the District.

A small amount of ricin also was found in February on a mail-opening machine in an office of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican. No envelope or threatening letter was found in that case. The ricin in Mr. Frist’s office was described by the FBI as “trace amounts mixed in with paper dust.” Forty-three letters eventually were tested for ricin, but proved negative.

The Postal Inspection Service, FBI and Transportation Department initially had offered a $100,000 reward in the case, but recently increased the amount.

Postal inspection authorities said those responsible for the letters may be connected to the trucking or transportation industry, but that any potential leads should be reported. Several truckers and trucking companies questioned the new regulations, saying they resulted in lost wages and reduced productivity because of stricter rest requirements.

The authorities said that on the exterior of the Greenville envelope was a typewritten warning: “Caution RICIN POISON enclosed in sealed container. Do not open without proper protection.”

The authorities said the letter identified the sender as “a fleet owner of a tanker company” who had easy access to castor pulp, the source of the ricin. They said the sender warned that if his demand were dismissed, he was capable of making ricin.

“My demand is simple, January 4, 2004, starts the new hours of service for trucks which include a ridiculous ten hours in the sleeper berth. Keep at eight or I will start dumping. You have been warned this is the only letter that will be sent by me.”

The authorities said anyone with information should call 866/839-6241.

Ricin is made from processed castor beans and, investigators said, would require a deliberate act to make and use it as a poison.

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